The Virtual Advisor Program: Linking Students to Mentors via the World Wide Web

Wendy C. Coates, Felix Ankel, Adrienne Birnbaum, Don Kosiak, Kerry B. Broderick, Stephen Thomas, Robert Leschke, Jamie Collings

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


Background: Emergency medicine (EM) is a popular specialty for medical students choosing a career. Many attend medical schools without an affiliated EM residency and lack both the formal mentorship and informal guidance provided by medical school advisors (or faculty) involved in an accredited EM training program. Others desire specialized advice based on geographic or specific academic interest. Objective: The authors describe user characteristics of a Web-based virtual advisor program that paired medical students with EM faculty advisors. Methods: Prospective users access the system from a link on the Society for Academic Emergency Medicine (SAEM) home page. On the initial visit, demographic information is collected. Faculty and student guidelines are provided. Students desiring individual advice may register for a virtual advisor who can assess career goals and qualifications. Volunteer faculty mentors are assigned on the basis of the student's geographic and demographic preferences and career aspirations. Encounters rely primarily on electronic and/or voice correspondence to suit the needs of the pair. A frequently asked question (FAQ) section provides. answers to common questions and does not require registration. Results: Two hundred sixty-four students (183 males, 75 females, 6 unspecified) from North American (87) and international (25) medical schools requested a virtual advisor. One hundred twenty-one faculty advisors from 56 U.S. medical schools participated (86 [71%] males; 35 [29%] females). Students indicated reasons they sought a virtual advisor. Qualitative feedback was generally positive from advisors and advisees. Conclusion: The implementation of the virtual advisor program enabled medical students to have access to experienced EM faculty career mentors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)253-255
Number of pages3
JournalAcademic Emergency Medicine
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2004


  • Advisor
  • Career
  • Emergency medicine
  • Internet
  • Medical student


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